Families looking for something to do together during spring break week need look no further than the Oregon coast, according to officials at the Oregon Parks & Recreation Department. by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: DOUG BURKHARDT - Whales are the largest mammals on Earth, and late March is an ideal time to catch a glimpse of them as they migrate northward toward Alaska.

The coastline is the place to be March 22 to 29 as gray whales cruise north on their spring migration. Gray whale numbers usually peak about the last week in March and just in time for the “Spring Whale Watch Week.”

Nearly 160 gray whales pass along the coast each day, and whale watchers may see their 12-foot blow — or spout — from the shore.

Trained volunteers will be at 24 “Whale Watching Spoken Here” sites along the coast from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day. They’ll answer questions and share tips about spotting some of the 18,000 gray whales heading from their breeding grounds on Mexico’s Baja coast to their summer feeding grounds in the Bering and Chukchi Seas.

Visitors hoping to spot some of these passing giants should come to the coast with binoculars and rain gear and look for the “Whale Watching Spoken Here” signs at whale-watching viewpoints.

This time of year, most of the whales can be spotted about one to three miles off the coastline. Occasionally, whales will search for food or an early mother and calf will swim close to the shore.

Oregon State Park rangers and volunteers will also be at the Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day of the watch week, and Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center, in nearby Newport, offers daily programs including 30-minute whale skeleton tours and marine mammal presentations.

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